The cash-strapped Catalans have a plethora of ageing and injury-prone players on massive wages that they need to offload in order to balance the books
“I’m convinced he’ll stay,” the Chilean told Mision TUDN on Monday. “Barca have to put €100 million on the table; that’s the minimum Inter will accept for Lautaro, even if [Inter coach Antonio] Conte likes [Arturo] Vidal.
“But Barcelona have financial problems that won’t allow them to take Lautaro, so that’s why I think he’ll stay. I have no doubts.”
However, while the cash-strapped Catalans may have given up on bringing Neymar back to Camp Nou this summer, they have not given up on signing Martinez.
Indeed, Barca are getting very creative in their attempts to land the Argentina attacker, who has a buy-out clause of €111m (£97m/$121m) that expires on July 15.
As already revealed by Goal, the Blaugrana would like to swap Nelson Semedo with Manchester City‘s Joao Cancelo, and then immediately give the latter to Inter in order to reduce their outlay on Martinez.
However, Barca are also trying desperately to raise as much as capital as possible for the summer transfer window, which is why they would listen to offers for every single member of the first-team squad bar Lionel Messi, Frenkie de Jong and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
That means that the board would even be open to offloading Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann, which represents a remarkable state of affairs given they are two of the statement signings of Josep Maria Bartomeu’s tenure.
Indeed, Bartomeu has previously claimed that Dembele is a better player than the man he effectively replaced at Camp Nou, Neymar, while it was the president who pushed so hard to convince Griezmann to come to Catalunya last year even after the Atletico Madrid forward had humiliated Barca by turning them down the summer before.
However, there have always been tactical concerns over whether Griezmann, who performs best in a two-man attack, is right for Barca’s beloved 4-3-3 formation – a system that coach Quique Setien previously tried to move away from only to be talked out of it by the most senior members of his squad.
Consequently, Barca would listen to any offer for Griezmann in the region of the €120m (£105m/$131m) they paid Atleti for his services.
As for Dembele, there is no denying that he is still a player of enormous potential, but the 23-year-old remains maddeningly injury-prone, meaning Barca are ready to cut their losses on a player they bought from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for an initial €105m (£92m/€115m).
Barca, though, have yet to receive any big offers for Dembele, which is perhaps unsurprising given the World Cup-winner’s discipline has also been called into question in the past.
Dembele’s compatriot Samuel Umtiti is also in a similar boat in light of his own injury issues over the past two years. Essentially, clubs are reluctant to take a gamble on the centre-half for precisely the same reason Barca are willing to let him leave.
Of course, Barca’s primary objective in terms of outgoings this summer was finding buyer for the their record signing, Philippe Coutinho.
The Brazil playmaker is currently sidelined with an injury of his own at Bayern Munich, who in turn have already decided against making the attacking midfielder’s stay at the Allianz Arena permanent.
As a result, the Blaugrana have yet to receive a single bid for a player that they are willing to sell for just half of his original fee of €160m (£142m/$173m).
The Coutinho situation is particularly problematic for a club that needs to raise €40m (£36m/£43m) in player sales before June 30 just to meet their budgetary requirements for 2019-20.
To date, they have pocketed just €6m from the departure of Marc Cucurella, who has joined Getafe on a permanent deal having originally moved to Coliseum Alfonso Perez on loan at the start of the campaign.
Of the remaining members of Barca’s potential squad for 2020-21, everyone bar Emerson De Souza and Pedri could be sold.
Brazilian right-back Emerson is presently plying his trade at Real Betis but can be signed by Barca in 2021 for just €6m, while the only decision to be taken regarding Las Palmas’ 17-year-old sensation Pedri is whether he will be sent out on loan or added to the first-team squad when he arrives in Catalunya on July 1.
Jean-Clair Todibo has plenty of fans in Barcelona but Schalke have an option to buy the 20-year-old French defender at the end of the season for €25m (£22.4m/$27.2m).